Monday, December 17, 2012

Raise your voice for Swar

Anindita Sengupta has written an article about the recent attack on Swar Thounaojam where a mob of about 40 men gathered around Swar, while the police constable present not only did nothing, but pushed her and didn't let her get in her car.

Thounaojam is Manipuri and the newspapers have focused on her racial background. What happened was because of a rancid stew of biases and hostilities, no doubt, and race has its own role to play. But Thounaojam is worried about the race issue being sensationalised. She points out: “You can’t ignore the fact that I am from the NE and this distance-marker played its own role in the harassment and intimidation I have faced. However, it is very difficult for me to bring up the race issue here because we don’t yet have the tools and language to discuss the racial discrimination NE residents face in various parts of India. Because of such a lack, it sounds like populist posturing whenever the race angle is brought in. It becomes dangerous too.”
Let’s also not diminish the fact that this was a gender-related crime. Thounaojam was subjected to harassment that was decidedly sexual in its violence. The fact that women are vulnerable on our streets anyway made it easier for the mob to use that particular form of intimidation.
According to some reports, the motorcyclist claims that Thounaojam demanded his licence and yelled. As if that somehow is a defence. Because, of course, a woman should not be assaulted and molested in a public place but if the woman in question is angry, assertive, vocal, heard — then, then...
Then, nothing. This cannot happen in any city or state that claims to be civilised. Under any circumstances. No matter whether (or how much) the woman yells. Or is angry or vocal or even unpleasant. This cannot happen. Forgive me the lack of subtlety but I cannot afford the comfort of that right now.
The rest here. There's also a link to the petition which, please sign.

1 comment:

km said...

I found her comments about the "race issue" remarkably balanced and insightful. She's right - there is more to this than just race.

But whatever the root cause, there is the problem of justice right now. I hope she gets it.